Head of State

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In a story of a loser set up to lose even further, Chris Rock takes on the challenge of the electoral process in the comedy, Head of State. This is a fun movie that came out in 2003 which has many similarities to Obama’s run for president in 2008. In this case, life imitates art, but there are many differences, too. Chris Rock plays Mays Gilliam, an alderman from the 9th Ward of Washington D.C. To quote Mays, “It’s a neighborhood so bad, you can get shot while you’re getting shot.” Outside of the 9th Ward, an ironic twist of fate occurs when the current Republican candidates die in a freak plane crash, with about eight weeks left in the race. The party is looking to find a replacement to lose the race so they can set up the head of the party, Senator Bill Arnot, (James Rebhorn) to run in the 2008 race. After seeing a local news story about how Mays rescued an old lady and her cat from a building demolition, the G.O.P. leaders find the perfect person to take the hit.

Mays is about at the end of his rope. He does what he can to help the people of the 9th Ward, but the system is against him. His fiancee, Kim (Robin Givens) has turned into a vicious harpy of a woman who stopped paying his bills, so he loses his car, and after some deliberation about losing the bus service to his neighborhood, he is considered a risk, so he loses his job, too. He has sunk so low, that he now rides a bike everywhere, and even the gods seem to be mocking him by making his life a hell with stormy weather. The only bright thing in his life is a sweet girl, Lisa Clark (Tamala Jones) at the local C-store he has taken a liking to. This is when he meets Martin Geller (Dylan Baker) and Debra Lassiter (Lynn Whitfield), the campaign managers who tell him about his sudden change of fate. He can’t believe what has happened, but he is kept in the dark about the real reasons he was chosen. Next thing he knows, he’s swept off to a fundraising party filled with some high-class fatcats and their wives. There is some misunderstandings and some culture clash, but everyone has a great time, and he’s off to hit the campaign trail.

This is a fun look at the political process and how silly it can be when the unexpected person gets thrown into the mix. Mays takes the race in stride, with his brother, Mitch (Bernie Mac) as his running mate, and gets hit with all the usual mudslinging from the opposition, Brian Lewis (Nick Searcy), but comes back in a creative and effective way to take him to the win. This might not be one of the best Washington movies out there, but it is one of the most fun, and it can be watched over and over without it getting stale, especially during those political races. The addition of Nate Dogg’s funky musical narrations make it even more fun to watch.

I give this film a Musing review of ★★★★☆☆